25 Years, 100 Transfer Centers, 4 Lessons

I started my nursing career in 1986 and have had the opportunity to deliver patient care in various roles over the years—from Director of Specialized Clinical Services responsible transfer centers, patient flow activities, bariatric services and nursing leadership programs, to Chief Flight Nurse and Trauma Program Manager.  In my role here at TeleTracking as the Vice President, Clinical Strategy, I now have the opportunity to use my clinical expertise to help our clients achieve positive outcomes.  While I’ve held different positions throughout my career, what has remained consistent is my focus on making sure patients get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.  And that’s where having a robust transfer / referral center comes into play.  By centralizing operations across an enterprise,  admission requests from other hospitals and local physicians can be coordinated—often times through a single phone call or web request.

100 transfer centers blog 

I assembled the first transfer center at North Mississippi Medical Center in 2006, and now eight years later, I’ve been involved (in some capacity – implementation, training, consulting, marketing) in the launch of more than 100 transfer centers while at TeleTracking.  In many cases, we integrated patient intake and placement processes, so the transfer center becomes  an Enterprise Command Center – resembling NASAs Mission Control Center.

[NMMC Transfer Center Coordinates behind the Scenes]

When TeleTracking started this journey a quarter century ago, the concept of patient flow didn’t exist.  We started with a single product and vision to transform healthcare.  25 years later, that vision endures as we remain dedicated to optimizing health system operations and delivering measurable, sustainable outcomes to the clients that we serve.  We’ve also built a team of seasoned clinical and technology experts that consult, implement, train and share personal experiences and best practices with our clients.  With these experiences, we’ve learned some key lessons over the years.  Let’s start with the basic principles:

  • People = Right People; Right Seats
  • Process = Driven by Data
  • Technology = Support People & Processes
  • Leadership = Hard-wire Culture

Now let’s delve into the specifics:

  •  Speed and efficiency are key when redesigning operations. A gap analysis is one piece, but it doesn’t stop there—TeleTracking has a six point methodology.
  • Great technology helps drive success. It supports enterprise workflows, drives accountability, automates communication, captures robust data for continued improvement and helps with strategic decision-making.
  • If you’re regularly at or over capacity, fix the back of the house first—implement the processes and supporting technologies to move patients out as soon as they’re medically ready; rapidly yet safely prepare the room for the next patient; provide visibility to beds enterprise wide; and enable patient placement and transfer center staff to work together to place incoming patients in the right bed.
  • Use real-time data and analytics to drive change—set goals, build a scorecard, track metrics, and drill down to find bottlenecks. Look at trends over time to make long-term business decisions, from service line expansion to outreach targets.

At the end of the day it’s all about timely access to quality care, and TeleTracking has delivered on that promise of delivering repeatable, measurable and sustainable outcomes for many years.  Here are just a few examples of what our clients have been able to achieve:

  • Transfer volume up 230% = $73 million income boost in 6 quarters
  • 30% increase in external transfers
  • 40% increase in transfer admissions to secondary campus relieving capacity challenges at main campus
  • Transfer volume more than tripled since implementation
  • $51 million annual net margin impact
  • Additional 70 patients admitted through transfer center per month
  • External transfers have grown 16% and continue to grow each year
  • 34% increase in transfers over course of year
  • All but eliminated diversion hours with a 99% decrease
  • Reduced ED wait times by 33,000 hours
  • Served an additional 14,000 children in the first year while eliminating ED diversion and reducing boarding hours by 50%

And the list goes on…

Thank you for believing in our mission, sharing a commitment to healing and helping patients, and collaborating with us to change healthcare.  The timely coordination of care will continue to be our true north as we look to the next 25 years.

More about this blog post

About the Expert

Joy AveryJoy Avery, RN, MSN

Joy Avery began her nursing career in 1986 and has had the opportunity to deliver patient care in a wide range of roles over the years—from Director of Specialized Clinical Services responsible transfer centers, patient flow activities, bariatric services and nursing leadership programs, to Chief Flight Nurse and Trauma Program Manager.

As the Vice President of Clinical Strategy at TeleTracking, Joy uses her clinical expertise to facilitate rapid patient access solutions at health systems across the country. Having been involved in the implementation of 100 command centers, Joy can speak extensively about the power of a robust transfer/referral center and how when operations are centralized across an enterprise system, admission requests from other hospitals and local physicians can be coordinated.

More information about this resource

Patient Access, Patient Flow Experts
Media Type
Clinician, Operations

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